The Question

During our careers, we work with many different kinds of people.  All of them have unique characteristics and personality traits. In your opinion, which of the following is the most important characteristic of a coworker? 

  • a serious attitude regarding their work obligations
  • a willingness to learn new things
  • the ability to make other people laugh

You may choose more than one of these options. Use reasons and specific examples to explain your answer. Do not use memorized examples.

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The Sample Essay

         Everyone in the world spends an enormous amount of time at their workplace, and how much they enjoy their job depends largely on how much they like their coworkers.  I am of the opinion that there are two main characteristics of a good co-worker, which are a serious attitude and a willingness to learn new things. I will explore these two factors in the following essay.

         First of all, coworkers who approach their tasks with a serious attitude are desirable because they help to maintain an efficient work environment.  People who behave in a professional manner are less likely to be lazy and pass their responsibilities off to others. This always makes life much easier for everyone in an organization.  For example, last summer the staff at my company felt overwhelmed by the number of assignments we had to complete. It was our busy season, and we had a number of unexpected orders come in from our international clients.  Filling these orders required everyone to focus intently on their specific areas of responsibility. While this meant that some employees were working longer hours than others, no one complained about the situation. Instead, we all maintained a professional demeanor, and as a result we were able to get through the season.

          Secondly, if workers feel comfortable learning new things, they will be more likely to adapt to rapid changes at their workplaces. The techniques and theories that people learned at school just a decade ago are quickly becoming obsolete.  Employees who are unwilling to learn from their younger colleagues often create unpleasant workplaces. My own experience is a compelling example of what I mean. Last year my firm hired a new employee who had more than twenty years of experience in our industry.  While at first glance he seemed like a perfect addition to our organization, his techniques were wholly out of step with the modern world. Not only that, but he became apprehensive and belligerent when younger staff members tried to show him about current trends in our industry.  Eventually he was dismissed from the firm because of the negative effect he had on his coworkers.

         In conclusion, I believe that professionalism and a willingness to learn new things are the hallmarks of a good employee.  This is because a professional attitude is necessary to ensure a smooth and efficient work environment, and because in today’s rapidly changing world it is always necessary to learn new skills and techniques. (409 words)


This is a sample TOEFL independent essay written by a native speaker.  It follows our TOEFL writing templates  for independent essays.  If it is useful, please remember that we have many more sample essays for you to read!



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